Podcasting and More: Cutting Through the Jargon to Find the Gems (Part 2 of 2)

It’s not as if we haven’t heard of podcasting—producing simple and inexpensive audio and video recordings which can be shared online with anyone interested in what we are doing. We may, on the other hand, be wondering what it means to us and to the library members and guests we serve. As mentioned in the first of this two-part series, the answer can affect our ability to meet our users’ needs.
“I think it’s something that is a technology or a tool that has become very mainstream,” Infopeople instructor David Free noted recently in discussing the Practical Podcasting and Videocasting workshops he is offering between now and November 2008. “You can get podcasts of TV shows and radio shows. It’s a technology that people in communities are going to be more used to seeing in other areas.”
And it is already a format which is providing library staff and library members and guests with resources when they need the information—not just when we’re available to provide it. Podcasting is increasingly used to post basic as well as specialized information of interest to library users as well as to staff in need of brief and readily available training on a variety of topics.
Infopeople itself offers a large variety of podcasts on its website—Michael Cart’s “Reviews” on books and those who write them; Joan Frye Williams and George Needham’s “Thinking Out Loud” series on innovations and contemporary issues in libraries; and archives of Infopeople webcasts and webinars from a variety of presenters. Free also suggests other podcast archives which may be of interest to those unfamiliar with the full potential of the format and the content it offers: the Los Angeles Public Library speaker series which has featured podcasts hosted by Alfred Molina, Debra Winger, Robert Scheer, and many others; the “Library Audio and Video to Go” series produced by the George C. Gordon Information Technology Division at Worcester Polytechnic Institute; and the “Behind the Desk Alden Audio Tour” produced by Ohio University Libraries.
Those attending Free’s workshops “are going to have a better understanding of what podcasting is—both audio and video podcasting—how libraries are using the technology for outreach and as a learning tool,” he promises. “They’re going to have had the experience of creating an audio podcast. They’ll also have an understanding of how to make a video podcast. You don’t necessarily have to be an expert to use this technology in libraries.
“I’m not going to say, ‘You all have to go back and make podcasts in your library’…but I think it’s important that everybody has an understanding of what it is,” he concluded.